Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Bashful Renter

The picture on the right was taken in Haiti. Jim is probably telling me the error of my ways again....or could it be words of endearment?

Sooooooo....We have this old house built in 1960, blue and white frame with patchy grass, a repo we bought for about $40,000 years ago. The meager rent supplements our support when and if a renter feels obliged to pay it. In the hurricane of 2004 a tree fell on the roof demolishing it and rain soaked most of the house. Jim let some people he found living under the bay bridge, a family of six from Oklahoma live in it and fix the roof in exchange for free rent. Needless to say they stayed quite awhile.

The history of renters in the house has been colorful, most of which I cannot relate to you and remain a godly person. The family currently renting it is three months behind so Jim thinks… “I’ll give him a little work.” Jim is swamped with paperwork on some Haiti projects so it makes sense. “Win Win” right? The man’s a “tree cutter downer” so Jim hires him to cut down some brush on the hill behind our house.

Meanwhile Stan, a genteel man at our church gives us some winter clothes…nice stuff; said we could use our own judgment about how to disburse it. Thinking of the heat in Haiti, I call the renter’s cell and ask if they need winter clothes. “Oh Yes,” he says….”Me and my tree crew sure could use those shirts.” I hear buzz saws in the background and think… “He’s working! Maybe some rent!” Hope springs eternal. Jubilantly I ask, “Could you call your wife and let her know I will drop off the clothes?”

I wait a reasonable length of time, in case the wife wants to spruce the place up a bit. The clothes are on hangers and in boxes and my car is sagging from the load. My kids even throw in some clothes of theirs in case there are girls in the house who are needy.

I pull into the drive…count three cars and a pickup truck. I’m wondering…how many people live here? There is an old washer and dryer stacked out in the carport, trash everywhere. The new blinds I bought at Wal-Mart are gone and a faded United State flag blanket is pulled over one window and varied and sundry things drape the others.

I knock at the door which used to be white and is now blotched with mildew and filth. A squirrely dog and a pit bully type dog growl and go into a frenzy of barking and clawing at the window sill Jim had so carefully painted months before. Didn’t the lease say” No PETS?” I’m seething inside at this point.

I hear the woman inside shout “Shad UP” to the now hysterical dogs. I wait expectantly at the door. After 10 minutes, I decide she is not going to open the door, so I stalk back to my car and pull open both car doors. A pile of long sleeved shirts spill onto the driveway.

I hope she’s watching as I pick them up carefully and struggle pitifully under my load up the driveway to the porch. It’s 30 degrees and the wind is whipping my hair backwards into my glowering face.

I remind myself…what good is it to help the poor in Haiti if I can’t even help here? I will invite this lady and all the other people who are apparently living with her here in this little 912 sq ft house to our church. I’m at the bottom of the driveway due to all the junk cars parked haphazardly ahead, so I trudge back and forth, stacking the clothes in neat piles on the chairs on the porch and on top of a log, no doubt a leftover from one of the tree cutter’s cuts.

The love of Christ is not really flooding my heart and the freezing wind does not help. I want to tell the woman that no matter how poor you are…you could clean up your yard….that I would starve before I would “not pay the rent,” how I had lived in tiny little trailers and a small apartment with the girls in an 8 x 8 room with Whitney on the floor, how I’d slept in hovels in Africa but managed to sweep and have some pride in my abode.

I didn’t say any of those things, however. I meekly leave everything, go home, complain big time to Jim, ask God to forgive me for my bad attitude which is still creeping up even now.

Truth is…I would like to evict them and all those folks living with them…but I have


Perhaps God will honor that and they will pay the rent once in awhile.


Karen-Missionary Meany

PS Our tickets are booked back to Haiti to work on two projects at opposite ends of the island. You are welcome to join us!